John Ivison: Justin Trudeau campaigned on helping indigenous students reach university but Liberals fail to deliver
Most right-thinking Canadians would agree with the contention in the Liberal election platform that chronic underfunding of the First Nations education system has held back many indigenous communities. There was very little push-back when the new government's first budget allocated $2.6 billion over five years for primary and secondary indigenous education to boost abysmal high school graduation rates.
But, curiously, given the amount of money that was being tossed around elsewhere, the Liberals did not follow through on a clear campaign commitment to invest $50 million in the Post Secondary Education Support Program, designed to help native students attend colleges and universities. (The $313-million fund helped 22,000 students in 2013/14).
The real culprit is the two per cent cap on aboriginal program funding that was imposed by the Liberals in 1996 and has governed spending increases ever since, despite an aboriginal population that is growing at six times the rate of the non-indigenous population. The Trudeau government promised to lift the cap, yet it remains in place for post-secondary education funding - perhaps the place where it could have the biggest impact on improving the living standards of aboriginal Canadians.